Bold First Ascent and Difficult Repeats: A Study of Guides and Porters on Mount Kilimanjaro
LANGUAGE NOTE | Document text in English; abstract also in Chinese.
This qualitative study examines the material conditions of youth serving as porters and guides to tourists making their ways across Mt Kilimanjaro. That mountaineering is a risky and onerous venture is well known. What is not often clear are the experiences of young school leavers who place their lives and limbs in jeopardy working as guides and porters. Yet this is a group whose jobs are increasingly complex, have multiple significances for the growth of mountain tourism and carry the potential to mask poverty and exclusion. As this study shows, it is neither the thrill of ascent nor the wages paid by tour operators that induce many youngsters to endure exposure to cold, back-breaking work and job insecurity - it is poverty. Since few people engage in mountaineering, mountain guides and porters are often considered to be a minority so small or so far beyond the realm of experience as to be a target of policy interventions. While effort is being made by policy makers to expand job real opportunities for the youthful segment of society, attention must also be paid to the problem of the working poor - represented in this study by the cooks, porters and guides on Mt. Kilimanjaro.
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